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May 31, 2006



I thought Dan Brown's anti-Catholicism by far the most interesting thing in The DaVinci Code, not so much the attack he makes on the church leadership of our day but, rather, on early Christian doctrine regarding Jesus and his group -- and the perpetuation of this doctrine by the RC Church. As I find this an entirely legitimate argument, I wonder if it should really be called "anti-Catholic," in that no irrational animus is involved. But I suppose this may be exactly what Protestant churchmen thought of their critiques of Catholicism.


I have some reservations about Marotti's recent work on anti-Catholicism. He seems to be suggesting that anti-Catholicism was hard-wired into early modern English Protestant culture - rather as Goldhagen suggests that anti-semitism was hard-wired into early twentieth-century German culture - which doesn't seem to square with the work of Anthony Milton, Michael Questier and others on the ambiguities and qualifications of anti-Catholicism as it worked itself out in practice.

The question of cross-over audiences (Catholics reading Protestant books, Protestants reading Catholic books) is a fascinating one, and sparks off a whole host of other questions about the nineteenth-century book trade. Did Anglican booksellers stock Catholic books, or did you have to go to a Catholic bookseller if you wanted to buy them? Did the big circulating libraries stock Catholic novels? Did the heavyweight periodicals review them? The other day I came across an interesting letter from the politician Thomas Spring Rice, in 1836, remarking that when he visited the bookshops in Bath and Bristol he'd been unable to find any of the new books he wanted to read, but when he visited the main Roman Catholic bookshop in Limerick he'd found 'two out of three of the books I asked for' and a fine selection of Protestant controversial works on display.

Betty KLimek

How do you obtain these books?

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